And then there was one.
The Rochester Red Wings’ two-year extension of its player-development contract with the Minnesota Twins late last week leaves the Buffalo Bisons as the only International League franchise without an affiliate lined up for next season.
Buffalo’s status is unlikely to change before Sept. 16, when teams are allowed to begin negotiating with unattached affiliates and the two-week bi-annual affiliation shuffle officially kicks off. That’s because the Bisons, who have been with the Mets the past four years, are expected to ink a deal with the Blue Jays, who have spent the past four years in Las Vegas (Pacific Coast) and appear eager to move their top affiliate closer to home and into a better ballpark.
A Toronto partnership with Buffalo would force the Mets on the move for the third time in six years and leave them with limited options on a home for the next two seasons. Eight of the 16 PCL franchises remain unsigned, though a change is unlikely for the bulk of that list. A potential landing spot for the Mets is Las Vegas, which likely will be the last team standing in the affiliation shuffle because its ballpark, Cashman Field, is among the most out-of-date in Triple-A.
Rochester considered replacing the Twins after posting consecutive 90-loss seasons. But a second-half surge this season—the Red Wings are in the wild-card race and have posted the International League’s best mark since July 1—secured Minnesota another two years in upstate New York. Rochester is sticking with the Twins not because of a lack of quality alternatives but rather the Twins’ commitment to rebuilding its farm system, Red Wings president Naomi Silver said.
“You don’t know exactly who is going to become available (in the affiliation shuffle),” Silver said, “and there was no option that appeared to be better than the one we have . . . We definitely feel that the Twins are an organization that believes, like we do, that the development of minor league players is a critical part of their business model, and it served us very well. We had a couple of rough seasons with them, but in 10 seasons overall they have been a great partner for us. They believe in teaching and training their players and training their players to do it their way. It is a very instructional organization, so we are very pleased to be with them. These are people whose baseball savvy we respect very much.”
In other affiliation news, the Blue Jays extended its PDC with low Class A Lansing (Midwest) for another two years through the 2014 season. The two sides have been together since 2005 and the Blue Jays sent the Lugnuts three of their best young pitchers this season in Justin Nicolino (8-4, 2.63), Aaron Sanchez (8-3, 2.27) and Noah Syndergaard (7-4, 2.79). Lansing rolled to the Midwest League’s first-half title and, despite a second-half dip, still sport the circuit’s best overall record at 76-47.